Singing Props Every Music Educator Can Afford

6 Items That Make Music Fun for Kids

01
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Ribbon Sticks

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You might only have seen ribbon sticks in gymnastics or a dance setting. They generally consist of a stick with a long colorful ribbon of some sort attached. For my preschool singing class, I made ribbon sticks using the large variety of Popsicle sticks you purchase from craft stores and three-fourths of an inch wide ribbon. Just use a hot glue gun to glue the Popsicle sticks together with the end of a long piece of ribbon in between. Be sure to treat the ends of the ribbons with some nail polish or “Fray Check” from the craft store and voila! My ribbon sticks have worked great for me for years.

02
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Shaker Eggs

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Another crafty musical activity is to allow children to fill Easter eggs with beans for an easy instrumental accompaniment. Be sure to buy eggs on clearance after Easter is over and use tape to strengthen the opening around the eggs. Easter eggs fall apart much easier than the shaker eggs you can buy. I recommend closing them up with designer duct tape. Since one roll of duct tape will make a year’s worth of eggs, a fun design is an affordable splurge. I also suggest buying premade shaker eggs for classroom use and letting kids take their creations home with them for rhythm practice.

03
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Puppets

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For the younger crowd, puppets are engaging singing props. Children can move the puppets up and down with the notes and they are often found at dollar stores. These inexpensive puppets are lower in quality, so you may want to begin with a cheap set and slowly replace puppets with ones that will last longer. Ones that open their mouths are most popular for singing class. You can also make your own finger puppets using felt. Sewing is not necessary, but I found the puppet base holds together better when you do. I have created ducks, monkeys, turkeys, and more using a hot glue gun to paste on the eyes and other details. It is an activity kids can participate in, as well.

04
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Rhythm Sticks

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Sticks and stones used to be every child’s favorite toy and are still fun. A whole set of them costs a little more than the other props, but are well worth it. Kids have more fun tapping out rhythms than clapping them and they can be used as alternates for drums. If you are really strapped for money, you can buy a stick of the right thickness from a hardware store and cut it down into appropriate lengths. You may have to sand the ends so no one gets splinters.

For a fun musical activity, you can also ask each child to bring two sticks to class one day as homework, being sure to bring a few extra in case someone forgets. The sticks would not last long, but make a bigger impression on kids.

05
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Song Specific Props

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We have all seen children’s songs accompanied by colorful pictures or creative props made by teachers, parents, and children. One of my favorite ideas for younger children is to let kids make their own sun and use it to sing “Mr. Sun,” at the end of the school year. You can also have letters that certain kids can hold up at appropriate times, like in B-I-N-G-O. The possibilities are numerous. I made a little flower with a heart in the middle that I laminated and put on Popsicle sticks that I use for both love and flower songs.

06
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Shaker Bells

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“That’s Amore,” “Jingle Bells,” and many other kids songs specifically mention jingling or tingling of bells, but shaker bells are great for other songs as well. I like to have the kids shake their bells to the rhythm of “Tingalayo,” for instance, the Caribbean folk tune about a donkey. The bells seem to fit in nicely and kids love it. I have made shaker bells unsuccessfully using a Popsicle stick, bells, and a hot glue gun. They last for a little while, but the bells fall off with one or two shakes. If you want to make homemade shaker bells, you will have to drill holes and use string to attach the bells.